Friday, February 1, 2019

Sixty Minutes at Bluff Lake Nature Area and Star K Ranch

January 31, 2019

Richard Stevens:

High temperature was 50 degrees.  Winds were 5-6 mph with gusts to 11 mph.

Around noon, I stopped at Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver County).  The flock of White-crowned Sparrows wintering here with a Harris's Sparrow was not found today.

I found one sparrow along the east side trail among the rabbit brush behind the maintenance building.  Unfortunately, the look was so brief that a proper ID was not possible.  

Its back was toward me and its head was never observed.  Overall, I thought the streaks on the back were duller brown (White-crowned) than blackish (Harris's).  The tail appeared to short and size a bit small for a Harris's.  However, I wanted to make sure.

The sparrow stayed deep in one bush while I continued to watch for 15 minutes.  I dislike missing an ID and decided to give it 30 minutes.  

Just before the self-imposed time limit, a second sparrow flew into a nearby bush.  This was less shy and stayed on the outer edges.  It was clearly a Song Sparrow.  Watching the Song Sparrow kept my interest and I decided to stay for another 30 minutes.

At 55 minutes, the mystery sparrow emerged long enough to ID it was a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow.  

My next stop was Star K Ranch (Adams County).  The majority bird here was Northern Flicker.

A snipe flew up from the pond in the Wildlife Area.  After 15 minutes or so, it was relocated and turned out to be a Wilson's Snipe.

I wanted to confirm the ID since two American Woodcocks have been found within 3 miles.  Star K Ranch (1/1/2005) and Coal Creek Regional Greenway (10/16/2016).

No Short-eared Owls appeared when I parked at 88th avenue & 470 toll road 30 minutes either side of sunset.

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